Over recent years, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has established a tradition of holding annual public events where participants from government, parliament, civil society, the business sector, academia and the media jointly reflect upon the functioning of the multilateral trading system and analyse the institutional state of the WTO. The Inter-Parliamentary Union has been associated with WTO public forums on a number of occasions, having organized parliamentary events within their overall programme.
WTO Public Forum 2010 will be held on WTO premises in Geneva (Centre William Rappard) from 15 to 17 September, under the overall theme The Forces Shaping World Trade.
As part of the Forum's programme, which includes a great number of separate events, the IPU and the European Parliament will organize a Parliamentary Panel entitled Can the existing multilateral trading system cope with the emerging challenges?
The enduring global economic and financial crisis has generated renewed awareness of the benefits of the rules-based, stable and predictable trading system embodied by the WTO. At the same time, the crisis has exposed the system to powerful new pressures resulting from a sharp decline in international trade, a surge in protectionist tendencies and a revived interest in regional trade agreements accentuated by chronic doubts about the ability of the negotiating machinery to bring the Doha Round to a successful conclusion.
Against the background of vigorous discussions about the need for a new model for multilateralism, legislators all over the world are confronted with hard choices concerning ways to overcome economic hardships and social recession. Accepting the notion that trade is as much a consequence as it is a driving force of the economic rebound, members of parliament are increasingly assertive of their own rights and wary of the need to submit to legally enforceable ceilings on farm subsidies and trade tariffs set from outside. In an atmosphere of swelling antipathy to globalization, this adds to public misgivings about the credibility of multilateral institutions.
Parliaments bear their own share of responsibility for ensuring that the multilateral trading system is able to reform itself in response to changing conditions. Their role is to provide stringent oversight of government policies, commitments and plans, including in the sphere of international trade. The panel is expected to consider from a parliamentary perspective policy responses to the growing pressures on the multilateral trading system in the wake of the economic crisis and in view of the emerging challenges.
The Parliamentary Panel will take place on Thursday, 16 September, from 2.15 to 4.15 p.m. in Room D at WTO Headquarters. The panel will be open to all parliamentarians and other participants duly accredited to the WTO Forum, subject to the limits of the room's seating capacity. Interpretation into English, French and Spanish was provided by the WTO Secretariat.
Important notice: All participants in the WTO Public Forum are responsible for their own visa, travel arrangements and accommodation in Geneva. For practical reasons, the IPU Secretariat is not in a position to help parliamentary delegates with accommodation and other practical arrangements in Geneva, which remain the sole responsibility of each delegate. Participants are required to register by 9 September 2010 at the latest. No on-the-spot registration will be possible.
Registration is handled by the WTO Secretarait.